Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"The customer is always wrong"

A recent movie portrays Cowboys regularly "escaping" the drudgery of life with their wives and children to renew their homosexual affair. A High Times article asks "Was Jesus a Stoner?" NBC's The Book of Daniel's Jesus pontificates about questionable ethical actions: "He's a kid, let him be a kid." A recent blog is entitled, "2006--A Bad Year for Jesus." The upcoming Da Vinci Code posits that Jesus of Nazareth wasn't so much a savior and redeemer as a "spiritual" person who marries Mary Magdalene and whose progeny helps establish the Merovingian dynasty in Dark Ages France.

This cultural craziness reminded me this morning of something that C.S. Lewis said fifty years ago:

“Until quite recently—until the later part of the last century—it was taken for granted that the business of the artist was to delight and instruct his public. There were, of course, different publics; the street-songs and oratorios were not addressed to the same audience. And an artist might lead his public on to appreciate finer things than they had wanted at first; but he could do this only by being, from the first, if not merely entertaining, yet entertaining, and if not completely intelligible, yet very largely intelligible. All this had changed. In the highest aesthetic circles one now hears nothing about the artist’s duty to us. It is all about our duty to him. He owes us nothing; we owe him 'recognition,' even though he has never paid the slightest attention to our tastes, interests, or habits. If we don’t give it to him, our name is mud. In this shop, the customer is always wrong" (from "Good Work and Good Works," Harcourt, 1959).

One place to find sane, balanced commentary on recent films and other cultural expressions is Gene Edward Veith's,

No comments: